Turkey Backed Rebels Refuse to Withdraw in Syria’s Idlib

Rebels relocate some fighters from neighboring Aleppo Province

The Turkish-backed Fallaq al-Sham has issued a statement ruling out any withdrawal from the Idlib Province areas intended to be covered by the deal brokered by Turkey, which was intended to prevent a Syrian offensive against them.

Fallaq al-Sham argues that they need to keep their fighters in the demilitarized zone to “repel any treason” against them. Turkey has likewise been unable to get any of the other jihadist rebels to agree to a withdrawal.

Interestingly, many media reports claimed that Fallaq al-Sham had actually started its withdrawal, though in reality they’d only moved from a few locations in the neighboring Aleppo Province. That, combined with the statement ruling out Idlib pullouts, is hardly an endorsement of the plan.

The plan intended a 15-20 km buffer between Syrian and rebel territory, and there is no sign that the rebels will be evacuating most of that. There is no publicly announced timetable for the pullout, but the plan was intended to be imposed by Turkey and Russia.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.